STEPS TO AN EFFECTIVE SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE:

AT THE TABLE

I. INTRODUCTION.

In my last article in the Fall 1997 issue of this newsletter, I discussed steps the court and counsel should take to prepare for a settlement conference. In this article, I describe actions the court and counsel should take at the settlement conference to enhance the likelihood that a settlement is achieved.

II. STEPS THE COURT CAN TAKE.

There are at least seven steps that a judge can take to make the settlement conference effective.

III. STEPS COUNSEL CAN TAKE.

IV. CONCLUSION.

The court and counsel should devote the necessary energy and time to make settlement conferences productive. An effective settlement conference not only provides clients and counsel with an efficient means to solve problems but also creates a positive impression of our judicial system. The success or failure of a settlement conference will depend upon the preparation that takes place before the parties come together and the time and attention counsel and the court pay to the process. Judges and lawyers acting as problem solvers promotes respect and confidence in our profession.

A settlement conference permits a lawyer to use all of her skills as advocate, counselor and negotiator for the benefit of her client. Lawyers should practice these skills knowing that they will be called upon more frequently than trial skills.